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Carbonear barbershop could be in for a clipping

By Mark Squibb/April 21, 2022

A motion to send a cease work order to a Carbonear business launched a nearly 40-minute argument around the council table last week.

Councillor Danielle Doyle brought forward the resolution to send cease business orders to four businesses that are allegedly operating contrary to the Town of Carbonear’s regulations.

The businesses include two service garages, a nail salon on Irish Town Road, and a barbershop, also on Irish Town Road.

The one for the barber shop took the lion’s share of discussion time.

“The Irish Town Road barbershop — what’s happening there all of a sudden?” asked councillor Malcolm Seymour.

“They just need a permit to operate,” responded Doyle.

That seemed to surprise Seymour. Town CAO Cynthia Davis explained the barbershop is operating contrary to the rules for home-based businesses.

“In order to have a home-based business, you have to be living at the place of business,” added Doyle.

“But she is living there, isn’t she?” asked Seymour. “I know the lady that we’re talking about and I know the family and everything, and I had the understanding that she was living there.”

Seymour suggested council go back to the barber to ask.

“I think the MEO (Municipal Enforcement Officer) has done his due diligence,” said Doyle.

Doyle added that businesses that receive a cease order can challenge it.

Deputy Mayor Sam Slade sided with Seymour.

“Why would we not have a conversation (with the business owner) sooner than do this?” asked Slade. “Why would we not have a conversation — or did we have a conversation with this individual?”

Doyle and Davis affirmed there had been multiple attempts to reach the owner.

“In order to get to this, there are multiple verbal contacts, like phone calls, visits, etcetera,” said Doyle. “Then there are letters, then there is a reminder letter, then there are often more phone calls and more visits, and unfortunately then it gets to the order stage, because sometimes people don’t apply for a certain permit, or they’re still in non-compliance, or they don’t call the town back, or there’s no response, or whatever.”

Seymour said that as a new councillor, he often asks questions to make sure he understands the process fully. He added that he hopes the policy doesn’t mean the town loses businesses, because a loss of business would be a loss of tax revenue.

Doyle said there could be different reasons that a business would receive a cease business order.

“All of these four are very long stories that have worked through the process to get to here,” she said.

Davis added that besides the question of whether the barber lives at the residence, there are other conditions that need to be met, including a minimum business to residential ratio. She noted the area is residential, and a business other than a home-based business would not be appropriate for the area.

Councillor Chris O’Grady argued the Town is in the right in sending the order.

“I don’t think anyone is saying you have to shut down a business, but if you have a home-based business, and you no longer live in the home, then you just need to move your business to a commercial area and set up where you are permitted to have a business,” said O’Grady. “No one’s saying she’s got to shut it down, but if you no longer live in the home, you can’t have a homebased business.”

Doyle added it’s only fair that businesses performing similar services pay the same amount in taxes, and that the regulations are in place to ensure a fair playing field for all.

“You can’t break the rules for one,” said Doyle. “We’re trying to be consistent.”

Seymour said he would like to look deeper into whether the barber shop and nail salon, which are both on Irish Town Road, are operating without a permit.

Doyle then explained that she felt it not fair that some businesses may be paying more taxes than others, while offering similar services.

“If you’re making money doing a service, then it’s a business,” said Doyle. “When we have other nail salons in the area paying business tax, it’s not fair that some business owners pay tax, and some don’t. So, if you’re advertising it as a business, and you’re providing a service that you’re getting paid for, it’s not a hobby. It’s not knitting dish clothes.”

Councilor Ray Noel asked if the issue to cease operations would be effective immediately or if the operator would have time to respond.

“I too have a concern with the barbershop,” said Noel. “I’m not too concerned with the other ones, but I think some are more clear cut.”

Doyle noted the barbershop is also operating as a store front, which is contrary to the rules for homebased businesses.

“Hopefully it can be resolved,” said Slade. “I would like to see the town council of Carbonear do as much as we can possibly do to maintain the businesses that we’ve got, and if anything, be more friendly to those coming in.”

Doyle said she agreed “100 percent” so long as they operate within the rules.

There are very similar businesses in other areas throughout our town, who are following the rules,” said Doyle.  “So, we can’t say, ‘That’s okay, because they’re there, they don’t have to follow the rules,’ but we’re making someone down the road follow them, because otherwise we’re operating as the wild wild west, and there’s no rules for anybody, and look what happens then. These rules are put into place to try and keep things fair and consistent for all community members.”

Councillor Peter Snow said he hoped the order will include a note about the right to appeal.

When it came time to vote, council tackled each order separately. The first order, to a service garage at 9 Leslie Street, passed unanimously.

Next was the vote on the barbershop.

Noel asked if council could defer the matter. Mayor Frank Butt noted he would be favorable to that, along with deferring the order for the nail salon.

Doyle felt otherwise. O’Grady agreed.

“None of this is a shock to any of these people,” said O’Grady. “It’s been going on for months and months and months.”

Seymour suggested that instead of sending the cease business order, council send a letter to both the barber and nail stylist warning them that if they do not comply to the conditions within 30 days, council will vote on the matter.

Doyle said that both businesses have already received several warnings.

Butt asked Doyle if she would rescind the motion, but she said she could not as it came at the advisement of the municipal enforcement officer.

When put to the vote, both Mayor Butt and Deputy Mayor Slade voted against the motion.

The remaining two orders were approved unanimously.

With the vote put behind them, Doyle put forth a closing thought.

“I question sometimes, and I’m going to say this, I question why we have them (rules and regulations), if we’re not going to follow them,” she said. “Just throwing that out. Why have rules and regulations if we’re not going to follow them?”

Seymour took some exception to the comment.

“At the end of the day, we were voted into council to represent the people of this town,” Seymour said. “And we are voted in to represent them to the best of our knowledge to make sure we bring in what we can, and to follow rules, yes, and protocol … At the end of the day, we’ve got to do what’s right for the people… I think the people voted us in because they wanted us to represent them and their opinions, but at the end of the day we all, every single one of us, stood and put our hand on that Bible, and swore that we would uphold the development regulations, the Municipalities Act, and the rest of it. Now, there are lots of times I don’t agree with our development regulations, and that’s why we’re revising some of our regulations.”

When contacted by The Shoreline, Michelle Hogan of Hogan’s Barbershop had not yet received the cease business order.

Hogan said she indeed is living at the Irish Town Road home.

She added that, contrary to council’s claim that it had mailed her a letter in February, she had not received such a letter. Hogan said that years ago, the Town inquired about whether she was living at the residence, and she confirmed that she was.

“I’m very upset that the Town would treat me like this,” said Hogan, who opened the barbershop in 2014. “I am following the rules and feel discriminated here.”

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